Celtics win over Heat silver lining on dark, cloudy day

10 Comments

Boston beat the Miami Heat 100-98 and they did it without Rajon Rondo.

It’s a good omen, because the Celtics are going to have to hang on to a playoff spot in the East with more gritty games like this one because Rajon Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL. Boston did it with a triple-double from Paul Pierce and an appearance by the good Jeff Green. It was enough for a day against the best team in the East and a reason to hope the playoffs are still not out of question.

Rondo’s injury leads to a lot of big-picture questions for the Celtics — is it time to fully blow up the big three era? — but that’s not how the guys in the locker room can look at it. Doc Rivers summed that up after the game, via CSNNE.com.

“Well you can write the obituary, I’m not,” Rivers said.

What he’s going to have to do is find someone to provide the steady offense. And their defense is going to have to keep playing like this.

Make no mistake it was Boston’s defense that won them this game — Miami had an offensive rating of just 90.1 (points per 100 possessions) in the game. Miami shot just 40.6 percent as a team and was 5-of-23 from three. Ray Allen came off the bench to score 21 but was just 7-of-17 shooting, Dwyane Wade had 17 points but needed 20 shots to do it and missed his last seven attempts. Miami had just 19 points on 31.6 percent shooting in the fourth quarter.

Had it not been for another big night from LeBron James — 34 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists — Boston could have won this game handily. But even James needed 31 shots to get his points and down the stretch Jeff Green did a good job keeping him in check.

Boston’s offense wasn’t a much better than Miami’s but it got enough key plays when it mattered. In the second overtime Miami took a 98-95 lead with 62 seconds to play on a LeBron James three point play (the old-school way). But then Jason Terry hit a driving layup. Boston gets a stop them Pierce hits a 21-foot pull-up jumper to take a 99-98. You knew Miami would go to LeBron but Greed contested, the shot went wide, Pierce got the rebound and was fouled making one of two (100-98). Miami went for the win but Shane Battier’s 3-pointer wasn’t close.

Pierce had a sloppy triple double — 17 points but on 6-of-16 shooting, plus 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Kevin Garnett had 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting.

It was enough. It was a silver lining to provide a little hope on a day that largely seems gloomy for the Celtics.

Bulls hire Doug Collins as senior advisor

Rob Carr/Getty Images
1 Comment

Doug Collins burns out. Burns out his players, burns out himself. That was his reputation through 11 seasons coaching the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards and 76ers.

When Collins left Philadelphia in 2013, he declared he was done coaching. There was just too much pressure, he said.

Perhaps, Collins has found a role that better suits him.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

In a surprise announcement, the Chicago Bulls have brought former coach Doug Collins back into the fold, naming him a senior advisor to Executive Vice President John Paxson.

Even among NBA personnel, Collins was a basketball expert in his time. Whether he has kept up in a rapidly evolving league is an open question.

It won’t hurt having his voice in the room. It might hurt if the Bulls lean too heavily on it.

Hopefully, everyone entered this arrangement for the right reasons. Paxson played for Collins in Chicago. Collins’ son – Chris Collins – coaches nearby Northwestern. An overreliance on comfort won’t yield positive results. The Bulls need forward-thinkers, not just familiar faces. Successful executives put in a lot of work and aren’t just hanging around to be close with family.

This hire probably won’t move the needle much, but there’s certainly a chance it could – in either direction.

Dwight Howard considered retiring in 2015

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
1 Comment

Dwight Howard missed half the 2014-15 season due to injury, and he was investigated (but not charged) for child abuse that year.

But he remained defiantly confident.

He said he planned to play another 10 years. When his Rockets lost in the playoffs, he declared he was “still a champion.”

The picture behind the scenes wasn’t quite so rosy, though.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:

At a low point with the Rockets, after the 2014–15 season, he considered retiring. The jolly giant who supposedly had too much fun on the floor was miserable. “The joy,” Howard says, “was sucked out of it.” But what would retirement accomplish? He had to change his life regardless of his occupation. So he did what his teenage self would have done. He saw a pastor.

Calvin Simmons has ministered to hundreds of professional athletes in the past decade, including Adrian Peterson, so he is familiar with dramatic falls from grace. “Dwight had gone from the darling of the NBA to the black sheep,” Simmons says. “He realized he had done some things wrong and needed to change, but at the beginning he just wanted to share.”

“I saw him cleanse everything,” Simmons says, “and cut away the clutter around him, from a business manager to a security guard to all these financial people.” The sweep included his parents, whom he didn’t call for nearly two years. “That was hard,” Howard sighs. “It’s really hard to tell your parents, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I have to back away from you.’ They didn’t understand. They were very upset. But I wanted a genuine relationship with them that didn’t have anything to do with money or judgment.”

Howard’s fortunes didn’t exactly improve.

He feuded with James Harden, chafed at his role in Houston and endured public questions about why nobody likes him. Howard signed with his hometown Hawks, had a somewhat resurgent season, but again ended the year unhappy. Atlanta took major long-term salary just to dump him on the Hornets.

Howard is now a good situation in Charlotte, where the coach reveres him. This looks like Howard’s best chance of getting back on track.

But what if he doesn’t? That’s what I wonder when reading about 2015. If he nearly retired then, what happens if he doesn’t thrive with the Hornets and is faced with minimum-contract offers and small roles when he becomes a free agent at age 33 in 2019. Will he retire?

That’s obviously a ways off. For now, Howard will have every opportunity to right himself in Charlotte.

Report: From Lakers (+$115 million) to Pistons (-$45 million), NBA teams’ incomes vary widely

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
1 Comment

seyIn 2011, the NBA said 23 teams lost money. A lockout followed, and the players relinquished a significant share of Basketball Related Income to the owners.

In 2014, there was still noise about nine teams losing money. The owners and players struck a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement without another work stoppage just as new national TV contracts were kicking in, signs of prosperity.

Yet, the same issues persist.

Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Despite a flood of new national television cash, 14 of the NBA’s 30 teams lost money last season before collecting revenue-sharing payouts, and nine finished in the red even after accounting for those payments, according to confidential NBA financial records obtained by ESPN.com.

I highly recommend reading Windhorst’s and Lowe’s piece in full. It provides a fascinating breakdown of these numbers from a variety of perspectives.

It can be tough to evaluate these from afar.

The Pistons’ (Tom Gores) and Nets’ owners (Mikhail Prokhorov) own the arenas where their teams played last season. Those buildings can draw a lot of revenue from concerts and other events that isn’t included in the basketball-operations figures seen here.

The Rockets just sold for a record $2.2 billion, and it’s not just because they’re one of the few profitable teams. Sale prices have generally exceeded Forbes valuations lately.

Market size clearly matters, especially as it influences local TV deals. That’s the impetus to the Lakers’ massive profits during a season in which they went 26-56.

But the Lakers need competition, and that’s why they share revenue. There’s value in propping up small-market teams to have a full league of 30 teams. How much value? That’s the ongoing debate.

Maybe the NBA has gone too far toward small markets. Every franchise relocation in the last three decades has put a team in a small market – Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Memphis. That might be finally catching up to the league.

That’s why another team moving or even expansion is being discussed again. Expansion could bring quick cash to the several teams losing it. But it’d also dilute revenue long-term.

These are thorny problems, ones teams have millions of reasons to keep debating.

Joel Embiid clowns Kevin Durant with #BurnerTwitter joke

Kevin Winter/Getty Images
5 Comments

Kevin Durant sure looks like someone who has a secret Twitter account he uses to argue on behalf of himself.

It also appears Durant might have a secret Instagram account. His brother tagged a photo of the Warriors star with the account “quiresultan,” not Durant’s official account (“kevindurant”). Turns out, “quiresultan” has spent a fair amount of time insulting random commenters who bash Durant. Shortly after that made the rounds, “quiresultan” changed its name to “shanghainoon12345.”

Will Durant get a pass for this questionable online behavior?

Not from 76ers center Joel Embiid:

It’s no surprise Durant is the butt of the joke. But from a fellow NBA player? That’s harsher than I expected.